There’s been a lot of print dedicated to telling people that Chance the Rapper will be a featured player on Surf rather than the star. That hasn’t stopped some critics of the surprise, free release (!) from griping about how the whole product isn’t a definitive showcase for Chance’s singular Bugs Bunny-as-Edward G. Robinson style. To be sure, Chance is on the record, but his rapping is as it was advertised in the press: a featured player.
His rapping serves more as an additional instrument to the lush jazz production that defines Surf. If anything, he’s just a necessary link to the relative unknowns in the Social Experiment as well as the “We are the World” ensemble of guest stars. The true star is the horn of Donnie Trumpet which pierces, zips and buoys its way through 52 minutes of a long, strange, wonderful trip.